Nutritionistas

April 25, 2008 at 8:23 pm (Alternative Medicine, Bad Science, Bloggers, Patrick Holford, Remedies, Supplements, Woo) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Possibly the highest-profile nutritionista in the UK is Patrick Holford. Patrick has featured on many sites, including the Quackometer blog. The Bad Science blog has often featured Holford and he also appears on Damian Thompson’s Counterknowledge blog. Holford has written several books on nutrition – most notably the Optimum Nutrition Bible and Optimum Nutrition for the Mind, but also titles such as Natural Highs, Natural Energy Highs and Natural Chill Highs. You can see more information on Patrick Holford’s career [PDF] by clicking on this link to an annotated CV. Holford’s books are packed with scientific language and references to academic papers. Unfortunately, Professor Holford seems to suffer from a condition called referenciness. While looking through the various blogs that mention Patrick Holford, I found that I wasn’t the first first to refer to him as a nutritionista – not by a long shot. There’s more here. One of the links from that Google search is to Dr Aust’s Spleen, who has several posts referring to Professor Holford, including one titled Patrick Holford’s mentors and inspirations – but who are they exactly?. If you want an alphabetical listing of Holford Howlers, then click this link to Holford Watch’s page. If you want a pithy description of The Professor, click here. He’s been covered so comprehensively there seems little point me adding much, but it was worth writing this just to link to all the Bad Science Bloggers who have done so.

Dr John Briffa seems to have received less coverage on skeptical blogs than The Professor, but I noticed a post by Coracle recently that featured Dr Briffa and also linked to a couple of posts by Dr Aust, including this one on Dr Briffa’s views on water. I covered Dr Briffa in one post on this blog, notable mainly for the excellent logo supplied by PV. Dr Briffa used to write a column for The Observer (which is nothing to boast about really – so did Neil Spencer, the astrologer) and was very keen on ideas like these and not so keen on the Food Standards Agency’s Chief Scientist blogging about the dubious detox regimes and supplements available. Neither was Dr Robert Verkerk who seemingly left a comment criticising Wadge’s blog post, without mentioning that he worked as Ultralife’s Scientific Director. You will note that one of the items on the page I just linked to is a Detox Product – £17.95 for 30 servings,  only £3 more than their Fruit & Veg powder. Fruit &Veg powder? Er, thanks all the same but I think I’ll buy some actual fruit & veg.

Now how about a bit of Gillian McKeith? As well as Howard’s page on la McKeith there’s a whole category at Bad Science. Gillian also featured in a piece in the BMJ written by Ben Goldacre and republished at http://www.badscience.net/?p=361. The BMJ piece prompted a few rabid responses – including those from Jerome Burne (co-author of at least one book with Patrick Holford) and Dr John Briffa, as well as from Patrick Holford himself. There were also some follow-up comments relating to the rabid responses by dietitian Catherine Collins, Jon Mendel, Ray Girvan and Professor David Colquhoun. For more on McKeith, try some of the links on Howard’s page or Google tapl +mckeith. Whatever you do, don’t click on this page. [Warning – Not Safe For Work. Or home – it’s Gillian McKeith in a catsuit.]

3 Comments

  1. badchemist said,

    Looking at PV’s BriffaWatch logo I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who thinks of a certain recycling and waste management company when I see Briffa’s name.

  2. jdc325 said,

    Bits-and-pieces:

    Dr Verkerk is also founder of the Alliance for Natural Health. Ultralife, the Detox Supplement company he worked for as scientific director (at the time he criticised Andrew Wadge’s blog post on Detox Supplements), are affiliated with The Institute for Complementary Medicine (ICM). The ANH (through Robert Verkerk PhD and Dr Damien Downing) has responded to the recent Bjelakovic study by press release: PDF. It finishes with this disgraceful allegation: “Might they [Cochrane] now be under the influence of the most potent force in orthodox healthcare – the drug companies?” Er, no.

    Incidentally, Downing works (or worked) at Nutrition Associates Ltd – who offer medical advice and treatments based on nutrition and allergy principles, which can mean recommending tests using, e.g., Great Smokies Diagnostic Laboratory and YorkTest.

    http://www.naltd.co.uk/how.html
    http://www.naltd.co.uk/
    http://www.naltd.co.uk/people.html

    Downing was also on the Scientific Board at Ultralife – alongside Dr Verkerk: http://www.ultralife.ch/18_en.html

  3. dvnutrix said,

    Fine bit of tracking there for both Downing and Verkerk, jdc325. The sniping about the Cochrane review has been disgraceful. Nobody objects to well-founded criticisms or well-argued differences of opinion but this innuendo and the accusations that fall under the heading of Making Stuff Up, that is both objectionable and contemptible.

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